“He is up there in the top five busiest silks and can turn his mind from one case to another very easily.” Chambers and Partners 2022
“A brilliant advocate who is really highly skilled and experienced in very challenging cases, and whose work is simply masterful.” Chambers and Partners 2020
Rory is recommended as a leading silk by The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners in six practice areas: administrative and public law, professional discipline and regulatory law, data protection, immigration and education. He has been shortlisted by Legal 500 for Immigration Silk of the Year 2023
Before taking silk, Rory spent 12 years on the Attorney General’s panels, including four years on the A panel. Rory has acted in over thirty cases in the Court of Appeal, five in the Supreme Court and more than a hundred in the High Court. He is the co-author of the Oxford University Press textbook, Detention Under the Immigration Acts: Law and Practice and he wrote the chapter on appeals and judicial review in the most recent editions of the LexisNexis textbook, Disciplinary and Regulatory Proceedings.
On 23 January 2023 Rory was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge.
Areas of expertise
Administrative and Public
Rory is recommended as a leading silk in administrative and public law by both The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. He has appeared for claimants and defendants in the Administrative Court for twenty years. He has a wide range of experience in administrative and public law across several fields: regulation, immigration, human rights and civil liberties, education, prison law and healthcare. He acts for individuals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government departments and other public authorities, including local authorities and primary care trusts. He is currently acting for the Department of Health and Social Care in a judicial review of their ex gratia compensation scheme for NHS patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) from blood donations.
Cases of note
- R (AW) v St George’s, University of London  EWHC 1647 (Admin) - Rory acted for the claimant student. The court found that the university's decision to terminate her registration for failure to undergo an occupational health assessment and re-enrol after absence was unfair. The university had not made clear to the student that if she did not attend the assessment and re-enrol by a certain date it would consider terminating her registration, and it had not sought her observations or submissions on the issue.
- R (T) v Secretary of State for Education  EWHC 2582 (Admin) - Rory acted for the Secretary of State. The court found that the policy of providing an additional 15 hours of free childcare to the children of working parents did not breach article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) read with article 8. The difference in treatment between families where one parent worked and lone parents who were unable to work was objectively justified. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal and this appeal is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
Rory is recommended as a leading silk in professional discipline and regulatory law by The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. He has frequently represented and advised both regulators and registrants in High Court appeals and judicial reviews.
He has acted for and against the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in the High Court and Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in numerous high-profile cases, e.g. he acted for the SRA in the appeal by Peter Gray, the former Gibson Dunn partner struck off for misleading the High Court.
He has also represented the General Medical Council, the Secretary of State for Education, the National Health Services Litigation Authority, the Care Quality Commission, the Pensions Regulator, several primary care trusts, dentists, pharmacists, psychotherapists, teachers, biomedical scientists and nurses in judicial reviews, High Court appeals and professional conduct proceedings. He wrote the chapter on appeals and judicial review in the most recent editions of the LexisNexis textbook, Disciplinary and Regulatory Proceedings.
Cases of note
- Gray v SRA  EWHC 624 (Admin) - The SDT had been entitled to strike a solicitor from the roll of solicitors after finding that his affidavit was knowingly misleading and that he allowed leading counsel to make misleading submissions to the court.
- GMC v Hayat  EWCA Civ 2796 - The High Court had failed to apply the correct principles on adjournments for ill-health. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT) had been entitled to refuse to adjourn a doctor's disciplinary hearing despite receiving a sick note from his GP saying that he was unfit to work. The court set out the minimum standard of medical evidence required before a tribunal would be required to adjourn.
Immigration and Business Immigration
Rory is recommended as a leading silk in immigration by The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. He has been shortlisted by Legal 500 for Immigration Silk of the Year 2023. He has appeared in over 30 immigration cases in the Court of Appeal and many more in the High Court and Upper Tribunal. He has advised and represented the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) in many of the key cases concerning immigration detention, Article 3 ECHR and ill-health and Article 8 ECHR and deportation.
Unusually, Rory acts both for and against the SSHD. He has represented claimants and appellants in numerous cases concerning the refusal of fresh claims, immigration detention, refugee family reunion etc. He is an expert in sponsor licensing and the Points Based System. He advises licensed sponsors on their obligations under Home Office guidance. He is also the co-author of Detention under the Immigration Acts: Law and Practice (OUP), the leading text book on immigration detention, which Lord Dyson described as “an essential addition to the library of anyone who practises in the field of the law of immigration”.
Cases of note
- AM (Zimbabwe) v SSHD  UKSC 17;  AC 633 - The Supreme Court interpreted and adopted the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Paposhvili v Belgium (41738/10)  Imm. A.R. 867.
- MY (Pakistan) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 1500;  1 WLR 238 - A decision to refuse an application for leave as a victim of domestic violence was not a decision to “refuse a human rights claim” and did not trigger a right of appeal.
- R (FwF & anor) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 88 - Public law errors, which led to delays in reuniting unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors with their family members in the UK under Regulation 604/2013 (Dublin III), did not breach Art 8 ECHR.
Data Protection and Information Law
Rory is recommended as a leading silk in Information Rights and Data Protection in both The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners (where he was ranked in Band 1 for juniors before taking silk). He advises and represents public authorities and data controllers in relation to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR. He often appears in appeals to the First-tier and Upper Tribunal against decisions of the Information Commissioner. Recently he represented the University of Southampton in FOIA appeals concerning the letters and diaries of Lord and Lady Mountbatten.
Cases of note
- Lownie v Information Commissioner and University of Southampton (EA/2020/0021, 26, 58, 59, 125) - The university had been entitled to withhold certain information within the papers of Lord and Lady Mountbatten. Some of that information was exempt under s40(2) of FOIA as it was the personal data of their surviving child. Other information was exempt under s27 of FOIA as its disclosure would have prejudiced international relations.
- Ministry of Defence v Information Commissioner and Burt (EA/2019/0038) - The Information Commissioner had been wrong to order the disclosure of the withheld elements of a report by the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulatory. The disclosure would be likely to prejudice defence, security and/or international relations.
- Department of Transport v Information Commissioner  EWCA Civ 2241 - The First-tier Tribunal had been entitled to examine, line by line, a document relating to a meeting with HRH Prince Charles and find that the withheld information was not environmental and therefore fell under FOIA.
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office v Information Commissioner and Corke (EA/2019/0031) - The Information Commissioner had been wrong to order the disclosure of the discussions which led to Harvey Weinstein being awarded a CBE.
Rory is recommended as a leading silk in education law by both The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. Rory’s expertise spans primary, secondary and tertiary education and the regulation of teachers.
Universities and colleges: Rory acted for the claimant student in the successful judicial review of the decision by St George’s University of London to terminate her registration. He also advises universities and colleges on student disciplinary matters and Tier 4 sponsor licences.
Secondary schools: Rory acts in judicial reviews and appeals against decisions concerning children with special educational needs and school closures. He also advises parents and schools on challenges to exam results, entrance decisions and on data protection issues.
Rory was lead counsel for the Department for Education in a judicial review of the government’s policy of providing free full-time childcare for the children of working parents.
Rory appears for and against teachers in professional conduct proceedings and appeals to the High Court.
Cases of note
- R (AW) v St George’s, University of London  EWHC 1647 (Admin) - Rory acted for the claimant student. The court found that the university's decision to terminate her registration for failure to undergo an occupational health assessment and re-enrol after her absence from the course due to illness was unlawful and unfair. The university had not made clear to the student that if she did not attend the assessment and re-enrol by a certain date it would consider terminating her registration, and it had not sought her observations or submissions on the issue.
- R (T) v Secretary of State for Education  EWHC 2582 (Admin) - Rory acted for the Secretary of State. The court found that the policy of providing an additional 15 hours of free childcare to the children of working parents did not breach ECHR article14 read with article 8. The difference in treatment between families where one parent worked and lone parents who were unable to work was objectively justified. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal and this appeal is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
Civil Liberties and Human Rights
Rory is recommended by The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners as a leading silk in civil liberties and human rights. He acts for the government in sensitive immigration, asylum and deportation challenges, typically those involving national security matters. He is currently acting in several human rights challenges concerning individuals deprived of British citizenship for travelling to Syria and aligning with terrorist organisations.
Early in his career, Rory worked at the European Court of Human Rights, drafting judgments and decisions in numerous British and Irish cases. He gave lectures on human rights on behalf of the Council of Europe and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Strasbourg, Armenia and Azerbaijan. He has also advised in relation to constitutional claims in jurisdictions with constitutions similar to the European Convention on Human Rights, for example the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Cases of note
- Shamima Begum, C8, C10, C11 and D4 v SSHD (SC/163/2019, SC/172/2020, SC/174/2020, SC/175/2020, SC/182/2020) - It was not in the interests of justice to allow appellants, in Camp Roj in Syria, to pursue some grounds of appeal but not others.
- R3 v SSHD (SC/150/2018) - The SSHD was entitled to deprive a dual national of his British citizenship after he travelled to Syria and aligned with an Al-Qaida aligned group, even though some of R3’s work in Syria was charitable and he had a British wife and children in the UK.
- L3 v SSHD (SC/144/2017) - The SSHD was entitled to exclude a Libyan national from the UK, even though he had a wife and child in the UK, as he held a leadership position in a Libyan militia group which contained hard-line Islamist elements.
Rory represents and advises clients in the health sector across a range of disciplines: healthcare regulation, FOIA requests, the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR, judicial review, etc.
For example, he has represented clinical commissioning groups and the Secretary of State for Health in judicial reviews concerning hospital reconfigurations. He also acted for the NHS Commissioning Board and the GMC in FOIA appeals. He also regularly advises GPs and other health care professionals on their obligations under the GDPR.
Cases of note
- R (Challis) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (High Court, Jay J) - The Secretary of State’s decision to refuse to extend the cut-off date of an ex-gratia compensation scheme for those infected with HCV by NHS blood, did not, even arguably, discriminate against those infected after the cut-off date on account of their disability.
- Teewary v General Medical Council  EWHC 376 (Admin) - The Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT) had been entitled to suspend a doctor for refusing to undergo a health assessment. The fact that the original complainant had withdrawn their complaint did not justify the doctor’s refusal.
- Cherwell DC v Oxfordshire CCG  EWHC 3349 (Admin) - The consultation that led to the closure of certain services at the Horton General Hospital had not been unfair even though there had been flaws.
Rory represented St Helens Borough Council at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
Rory is also acting for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in a judicial review, concerning the ex-gratia compensation schemes for infected blood, which overlaps with the Infected Blood Inquiry.
Parole Board and Prisons
Rory acts for the Parole Board and Secretary of State for Justice in judicial reviews and human rights challenges. Rory is currently representing the Parole Board in a judicial review by a prisoner challenging the decision to hold a closed hearing in his absence without appointing a special advocate on his behalf.
Cases of note
- R (Umar Jones) v Parole Board for England and Wales -The prisoner is a post-tariff life prisoner. He challenges the decision of a Parole Board to hold a closed hearing, at which he will neither be represented nor have a special advocate. The purpose of the closed hearing is to examine sensitive information relevant to risk.
- R (Kelly) v Parole Board for England and Wales  EWHC 4288 (Admin) - Delays in the parole board's review of a prisoner's detention had been caused by reasonable case management decisions rather than systematic failures. The length of the next review period was justified by the need for the prisoner to carry out further offending behaviour work.
"He is up there in the top five busiest silks and can turn his mind from one case to another very easily." Chambers and Partners 2022
"Rory is always on top of his brief and he is very smooth in submissions." "He is a very, very eloquent advocate. He is a very knowledgeable barrister and he has wide expertise." Chambers and Partners 2022
"He is extremely talented and is a very fair opponent who is well respected." Chambers and Partners 2022
“Even at the immigration Bar, Rory’s command of the authorities is unequalled. He uses this knowledge to great effect, on his feet he can cut down other counsel by showing their submissions are based on misreadings of complex cases.” The Legal 500, 2022
“Such a tough opponent – there’s no aspect of a case he doesn’t advance, and you can’t miss a single thing because he will spot it. I didn’t enjoy that day in court!” Chambers and Partners 2021
“He has an understated and calm advocacy style, is extremely intelligent and quickly gets on top of complex issues.” Chambers and Partners 2021
“Analytically sharp and unflappable in court." Chambers and Partners 2021
“There is nothing nicer than listening to him in court, as he makes it all so straightforward and attractive." Chambers and Partners 2021
“A formidable class act.” The Legal 500 2020
“His practice is mostly on the government side but he’s equally good at acting for claimants. He’s thorough, reliable, easy to work with and extremely proficient.” Chambers and Partners, 2020